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19 ideas to think big, act small

Two small local gift shops recently asked me for some advice having just opened their doors. Here’s my thinking that may ring a bell or two with you: Keep things simple whilst striving for quality – a massively pared back John Lewis, if you like. Keep changing: your window display, your special offers, and your […]

Boris Johnson in Starbucks

You say tax, I say loss

Reuters has called Starbucks out on their accounting tactic that sees them report a loss to the taxman while boasting healthy cashflows to investors. From the article, “Over the past three years, Starbucks has reported no profit, and paid no income tax, on sales of 1.2 billion pounds in the UK.” Of course, our coffee […]

Town centres ‘adapt or die’

A piece on the BBC this weekend sites a survey from Experian that indicates town centres will need to market themselves as convenient hubs for picking up products ordered online. From it, “More shops will need to adopt “click and collect” and retailers should embrace mobile commerce and social media to develop their online presence…” […]

Talking heads

Someone asked me the other day who to look for online; who are the voices they could tap into outside of the usual channels? Here’s a dozen go-to folks @John Battelle – the web’s favourite professor-turned-entrepreneur. He penned one of the original books on Google and his Search Blog is just as worthy of your […]

It’s not okay

When staff, especially service staff, say that customers where okay, it’s often not the case. “But they didn’t stay, they didn’t buy, they didn’t engage,” you reply. Disgruntled, dissatisfied, unhappy customers don’t scream and shout or spill blood. They leave. Simple as that. They might moan to their partner in the car or once the […]

Kindle Fire

Kindle thoughts

Amazon has shown itself as the first true competitor to Apple in the tablet war. The launch of the Kindle Fire this week is an audacious move to out-price the iPad with a dumbed-down system costing just $199. Tablets are a future cornerstone for the world’s data consumption. As ever, Jobs lifted the curtain on […]

Cancel is still a dirty word

January challenge: take a look around T-mobile’s website and try finding the page that lets you cancel your mobile contract. Go on, take a minute. Good luck. If you think call centre telephone systems are a way of companies sending you round in circles, this site was designed with the same penmanship. Not only is […]

Retailing depth

Seth would say there’s a dilemma when wanting to grow your customer base of going deeper or wider with your product offering. Victor Churchill in Melbourne is a fabulously extravagant example of going deeper. They’re in the meat business but they’re anything other than a simple a butcher’s shop. This store takes things to an […]

TED teaches values?

TED is one of my favourite sites on the Internet. The talks are simply magnificent. Watch this one from John Gerzema (photo) of Brand Asset Consulting. He hits us with as many salient blows as is possible in 20 minutes, but one that particularly stood out for me was of values. Our mindless consumerism is […]

Don’t believe the hype

A product, service or brand that’s being raved about is all well and good until you try it out for the first time. With mountains of people talking so wildly about something, you’ve naturally put it in the remarkable box. But what happens when it’s not remarkable; when it’s only OK; when it doesn’t blow […]

Kindle grows with proximity

Hadfield Road in Cardiff is a haven for the car buyer. It’s just a mile long but straddling nearly every inch of it you’ll find over 20 car dealerships. This proximity to your competitors certainly isn’t unique – pub chains all gather together in city centres. So does the sex industry in London’s Soho, and […]

This is really hot

Steve Jobs said, “This is really hot,” when he unveiled the iPhone 4 at his Worldwide Developers Conference last month. He wasn’t joking. It took Apple 72 days to sell a million of their original iPhone when it launched in 2007. Last year, the iPhone 3GS sold a million units in three days, a benchmark […]

eBay mobile is going BIG

Old news: technology and consumerism are intertwined. Simple example, the cheque book and then the debit card were tech replacements for cash. Today’s smart phones and the rush of tablets we’re about to see really are changing the landscape now, not just tomorrow. Watch Scoble interview the head of eBay mobile, Steve Yankovich to see […]

Commerce is killing the inbox

Smith-Harmon has released a study of American retail email trends for last year. Unsurprisingly, 2009 saw record volumes distributed. It states that the 100 largest retailers sent an average of 132 promotional emails to each of their subscribers. That’s an average of 11 emails a month and 2.5 per week, per subscriber (peaking at 15.4 […]

Brands help sell brands

If a salesman turns up for a meeting in new Porsche 911, he’d better be flogging footy players, not underwear or umbrellas to BHS. Most salespeople understand the principles of the game: set a tone that’s both professional and in line with your brand and product offering. That’s why I’m amazed at business people who […]

John Lewis tops the charts

Following their best Christmas to date, the very on-form John Lewis was recently voted Britain’s best shop by Verdict and its 6,000 shoppers. Let’s be honest, what’s not to like? The stores are upmarket but unpretentious. They’ve a quality product offering and peerless customer service. John Lewis is different from normal retailers. They’re known as […]

People Like Us

It’s pretty much a given that SMEs are more likely to be passionate about what they do than lumbering corporates answering to the City. Let’s be honest, most SMEs don’t tend to start a gardening business if they can’t stand the sight of grass. Unfortunately, that passion can overrun into myopia where those in business […]

What price for postage?

Charging for postage is the perennial debate of e-commerce. I think Amazon’s decision this week to extend its free postage charge trialled before Christmas might favour a good deal more consumers than Amazon serves. I can see other retailers having to follow suit as they look to win a friend and gain a client from […]

Email PR

Yet another naval-gazing award ceremony took place last week where BSkyB were claimed Britain’s Most Admired Company from Management Today. Clearly, MT’s judges didn’t base the trophy on Sky’s email campaigns. If they had, MT wouldn’t discover personal, relevant and timed messages – their emails are more like blanket mini-billboards. Every week or so Sky […]

Are you a Manager or Multiplexer?

I was asked this week, ‘What does a manager really do?’ It was a fairly innocuous, rhetorical, jovial question from a well-paid, senior person. The graduate switch flicked and I immediately thought, ‘seeing that the company’s goals are met’. After all, it’s the leader’s job to define and create those goals and aims, and it’s […]